Friday, January 23, 2009

Give a Little Bit

Some of my more amazing single mom faith times have come when God mobilized someone just so when I needed it most, whether it was a timely phone call, a gift card, an opportunity. And you know how it is...You cry and sigh and blow your nose and think, "OK. Maybe I can do another day." The contact is life-giving on a cellular level.

So my brilliant beautiful friend Melinda just blew my doors off yesterday. You know how a simple idea can take on Einsteinian proportions? Please read her blog on Modus Operandi: +1, in which she describes living her daily one. That means one extra prayer, one extra lunch for someone who needs it, one extra meal, one extra note of encouragement. As moms, a normal battle cry is, "I'M DOING LAUNDRY...DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO PUT IN?" So +1 is along those lines, but bigger: If I'm doing something can we stretch this out and help someone else?

I know I often feel overwhelmed, and then guilty, about not "serving" as much as I'd like to. There are a million worthy causes and only so many hours in the day. But Melinda's M.O. is so...streamlined! As a multi-tasking recovering-Type A kinda gal, I love that in a life-giving, life-changing call to action.

So, work with me here: What could you do to +1 in your normal routine? Choose a person to pray for? Donate a little extra? Check in on an elderly neighbor? I got to see one of my daughter's favorite teachers last night and learned she's expecting. I packed up a bunch of mom books for her this morning. Easy schmeezy fresh and cheesy, as we say in this house. A few moments and it was done on this end. Will Em's teacher review those books months (or years) from now and remember that they came at an exciting, wondering time?

Please think about this...and let us know how you're +1-ing it at your house, in your community, in your heart's prayers. Because you have to know: this is one of those things that goes exponential. And that, my friends, is what it's all about.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Accepting grace

Sometimes I get the grace reminder from a friend. Today I shared my thoughts with my two faith buddies on a daily devotional I received from Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life,

“When we don’t believe God is determined to love us perfectly, we end up living like our best choice is to take care of ourselves. And then, we become so busy taking care of ourselves that we have little time for authentic, transparent, loving community with others.”

I related how I felt I was living that way right now. I am so involved in solving the crises in my own life that I feel I am neglecting my friends and family. Why can't I do it all? I so easily take on the role of God in my own life…I must take care of everything myself. Part of it is a control thing, and part of it is that I have a hard time believing that God really wants to love me.

Then of course, God surfaces in the words of one of my buddies. She pointed out that, “Being in ‘community’ doesn’t necessarily mean that Cathy has to give to others, it could mean that Cathy gets to let others love her!”

My expectations for myself are different than my friend's expectations for me. She cuts me slack...grace. What a concept. I am so used to giving, that I forget (and frankly feel uncomfortable) about letting others help me. I think it is one of the curses of being a single mom. Afterall, I am alone, it is just me. It is my job to take care of everything. I forget that friends and family are there to help me. I forget how to let them in, how to accept help, and how to let them love me.

This single mom thing is a two-way street. We need people to be a blessing in our life, but we also need to be able to accept the blessing. I need to remember it isn’t a sign of weakness. Letting others in is a sign of healthy community…give and take…it takes both. Aaahh, I am still uncomfortable…

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Girly Man

During our recent storm here, I found myself a little anxious. This is a regular occurrence that I experience (and have heard from other single moms) when things are out of the norm...meaning power outages, snowdrifts, freezing temps, floods, (probably) locusts, etc., put us a little on edge. I find myself hypervigilant during these times, feeling like I especially need to protect my daughter from the elements, make sure I keep the household going inside and out, have emergency supplies, etc. It's just little old me against a whole bunch of bad possibilities.

Some people watch the snow fall, lazily nursing a hot toddy or peppermint chocolate: I spend my time looking furtively with an eye tic, thinking of the million ways we could die.

So during our severe weatherage, I had a pipe burst outside and, in the subsequent Three Stooges-esque scramble to get the water main turned off, among other concerns, I came to the conclusion that I make a lousy guy. I didn't know what I was doing and I was overwhelmed and, frankly, all the guys I know would not have started bawling in frustration as I did after one thing tripped another and another and another.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me feel especially alone, even though my ex was the kind of guy who would have just said, "Call a plumber." There is something to be said for having another adult in the area to which you could comment, "Doesn't this just suck?" And he'd say, "It sure does suck." And you both could eyeball the damage together and agree on the suckitude of the situation.

So...Cathy wrote about our looking to get that safety net established and firmly entrenched for ED. I am piggybacking on her blog entry here simply because my plumbing story is so incredibly common. And it's not just plumbing we're interested in--We're looking to share knowledge across the board. I'm a firm believer that we all have something valuable to's just a matter of organization. It's the old adage of teaching a man to fish--do we solve an immediate crisis, or do we also instruct on how to prevent or fix something for the long-term? My vote is for both. There is a lot to be said for instructing and encouraging single moms on a number of fronts, from changing a tire to bleeding a pipe, from stopping a leak to starting a class. While we all may remain girly men, in the nicest sense of the term, we also become stronger women and moms who get that graceful balance of asking for help and showing our kids what we're made of.

What knowledge do you have to share?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Moving forward

The kids are back to school and life returns to normal…whatever normal is. This week my biz partner and I got together to discuss our efforts (or stalled efforts) with respect to Eve’s Daughters. We quickly came to the place of “we haven’t done enough, we aren’t moving fast enough, and do you think God is mad at us?” Despite all I read about God and how much He loves us/me, I still end up flogging myself.

This time I remembered my resolution about showing some grace in 2009. So instead of tar and feathering my partner and me, I asked a simple question, “Could it be that we did as much as we could humanly do in 2008? Given all that is going on in our lives could it be that just maybe God felt we made progress?”

I heard a loud and clear… “YES!” Of course we would like to be farther along…we would like to be fully up and running…we would like to be able to help all single moms the way we envision it happening…but it takes time, and God remembers that we are still single moms as well. So I am listening to God, I am taking it easy on myself, and I am showing myself some grace.

This doesn’t mean I am slacking off…it means taking one day at a time and making realistic goals for 2009. Last year we began spreading the word about Eve’s Daughters and we started getting a lot of requests for different types of resources. So this year along with submitting our paperwork for our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status, we are focused on developing a strong network of people and organizations to help single moms.

If you or someone you know can help us with our network of resources let us know. We are looking for all kinds of people and services…plumbers, lawyers, caretakers, auto mechanics, gardeners, handypersons, career counselors, accountants, and people with an open ear and strong shoulder to cry on…to name a few. We would love to connect moms to discounted services and products where applicable. The number one thing we hear from single moms is how alone they feel in facing the daunting task of juggling motherhood, career, and “home” responsibilities. We want to help by tapping into existing resources and creating new ones where none exist.

Let us know if you would like to join our network…or if you know of a resource that is already in existence…don’t assume we know about them all. Please help us help the modern-day widows and orphans.